For anyone who started journey from Dota 1 and the W3C engine, they’ll know custom games, or rather custom maps, were a big part of the experience. The custom games in Dota 2 brought some of that back, but none of the games really got too popular (Overthrow maybe?!). Till now. Dota Auto Chess is custom game that has become crazily popular in the last few days. The game has more than 1.8 million subscribers, that’s right, 1.8 million! At any given time, there are close to 50000 people playing the game including popular streamers like SingSing and BSJ. BSJ even hosted a $5000 Dota Auto Chess tournament for the subscribers of his Twitch channel. Dota Auto Chess has definitely brought something new to the Dota 2 universe and it is being appreciated for the good product that it is. But as in case of most games, the game is not straight forward. It has its complexities which make it a bit difficult to decipher and add to the fun at the same time. For a new player, it can get very confusing in the first few games. Let’s take a quick look at how Dota Auto Chess is to be played and the intricacies involved in it.
The game starts with you as the courier. The courier is the piece that controls everything. There are a total of eight players and the last survivor is the winner. Every player has his own battlefield that looks like a chess board. The first part of the process is to select a hero. Every player’s initial gold is 1 and all the initial heroes available cost 1 gold. The first process to select a hero.
You will notice that every hero falls into two categories – Species and Class. For example, Bounty Hunter is Goblin species and Assassin class while Dragon Knight has Human and Dragon as species and Knight as class. There are a total of 52 heroes in Dota Auto Chess right now and all of them are divided according to species and class. Dragon Knight, Lycan and Puck are the only three heroes that have two species associated with them. Every hero has one ability from Dota 2 and it plays a big part in how good a certain hero is.
The categories play an important role in formulating strategies, but more on that later. For now, once you have the first hero, click on the courier, click ‘T’ and move the hero anywhere on your half of the chess board. The first three rounds are battling it out against creeps. The creeps drop items which can be picked up using the courier and can be given to heroes. After every round, you gain experience which gets you levels. As you gain levels, you can have more heroes on the board.
In the image above, the tab on top says 2/3 chesses. That means the player currently has 2 heroes on the board for now and can have a maximum of 3. The player’s gold can be seen to the right of that. Gold can be used to buy heroes or gain quick experience (5 gold for 4 experience points) to level up. Pressing ‘alt’ shows how many more points are needed for a level up. Items cannot be purchased with gold and are only available when they fall after killing neutral creeps.
As the game goes on, you rack up more gold and can buy more heroes. All heroes initially are 1-star heroes. Putting three 1-start heroes (same hero) on the chess board at the same time combines them to make a 2-star hero. For example, three 1-star Luna’s on the board will give a player one 2-star Luna. Three 2-star Luna’s will give one 3-start Luna. So basically to get a 3-start version of a hero, a player will need nine 1-star versions of the hero! Upgrading a hero increases his/her HP, skill level and the damage done to the enemy courier.In case the five heroes appearing in front of you are not the ones you want, you can always spend 2 gold, refresh and get a fresh set of five new heroes. But remember, if the new set also does not have any good hero, that is 2 gold lost permanently. Heroes can be sold for the price them were bought for. The button to sell is to the left of the refresh button on the courier.
As your level increases, make sure you put more heroes out there on the board. By the end of round three, everyone is at level 3 and has three heroes in their arsenal. Round four is when the battles between players start. Whatever army you have on the chess board will take on the army of a random player that will come on the other half of your board. At the same time, your hero army will travel to someone else’s board to challenge them on their home turf (it could be any of the other seven players). The battle takes place automatically without the players having to do anything. An auto battle on a battle field that looks like a chess board using Dota 2 heroes – Dota Auto Chess! That’s one of the big mysteries of life solved.
Home turf battle
If you win the battle on your home turf, i.e., on your own chess board, the courier takes no damage. But if you lose, the courier takes damage depending on how many units are standing. The total damage taken is:
Damage = Total number of stars remaining + Total number of summons
If a 3 star Nature’s Prophet, 2 star Juggernaut and a Treant is left standing at the end, the total damage the courier will take will be 3+2+1 = 6. When your courier takes 100 damage, you lose. Initially the damage is low. But later on in the game when players come with large armies, that damage tends to increase.
Away turf battle
At the same time when you are defending your board, the same army of heroes you have also travels to someone else’s board to fight them. If you win, the other player’s courier ends up taking damage.
There are a lot of strategies involved in the game. The basic rule is, if you have multiple heroes of the same species or class, there is a bonus associated with it. For example:
– If you have 3 Warriors on the board, the armor of all friendly Warriors will be increased by 8
– If you have 2 Trolls on the board, attack speed of all friendly Trolls is increased by 30
And there are such benefits for every species and class! That gives you an idea of all the different possibilities and combos. Certain species/classes are good early game but don’t scale into the late game while others take a beating early on but grow stronger as the game progresses. That’s something for every player to experience as he/she unlocks the secrets of Dota Auto Chess.
Positioning the pieces in a certain way also makes a difference. The tanks are to be kept ahead while ranged damage dealers like Tinker and Lina are best kept behind. But the Assassin class makes sure that they jump to the backlines to kill those ranged damage dealers so in some battles, that strategy can totally fail!
Gold can be earned in three ways in Dota Auto Chess:
1) Defeating an opponent gets 1 gold
2) Having a winning streak or losing streak (yes, losing streak) can get up to 3 gold
3) Interest which is 10% of your residual gold
There are actually strategies based on losing early game, racking up the gold with losing streaks and interest and then coming back strong to win!
I’ve just played a handful of Dota Auto Chess games and I’m already hooked! With the game getting so popular, it’s safe to say Valve will be looking into it and communicating with the creators to make it into something better and more organized. Well, at least that’s what I am hoping!